Super tough trail coming into Carmacks

I kind of always start by saying that it was an exciting day. Guess what, today was pretty exciting, too. I thought with a bit of luck most people who made it through the first couple of days will stay in the race. However, already during the night we got a help message from Henrik Benzon not too far north of Ken Lake. First thing in the morning Bernard checked on him and it turned out that he just could not keep any food down. A bit later on we were told that Gerald Zechner and Joel Rennie needed to be brought out of Ken Lake. No problem with cold injuries but muscular skeletal pain. Gerald also had gone through a bit of overflow. On the way to bring those two out, the team encountered Ryan Shaw who had pushed his limit a bit too far and had to withdraw due to exhaustion. Once these guys were all in and we thought, no more for today, Joe Bishop came back from the trail with Luc Atgé who was tired and fighting with a bronchitis.

Markus Kolly who had gone to sleep only about 6 miles before the checkpoint was not sure about his fingers. It looks like frostbite he sustained in a previous year is causing him to really feel the cold more now – which is normal. He took a long rest but has made up his mind that he prefers not to risk anything. He will not continue.

This means in our 300 mile race we are now down to 3 competitors and 16 remain for the 430 miles.

Marianne Heading from England is currently leading the 300 mile distance. She is an MYAU veteran and even though she said that today was extremely tough – due to lack of snow on the trail to Carmacks – she is doing really well. Behind her is British runner Gareth Hardcastle. Just like Marianne, he looks very strong and is handling the conditions well. Last but not least, we have Ahmad Faithi Junaidi from Brunei Darussalam. Now, I do not know the average temperature in Brunei but I am pretty sure that it’s kind of a “warm” country. Considering that, it’s incredible just how comfortable he looks out there. He has got his layer management really dialled in. I have hardly seen him with ice on the outside of his clothing which is always a very good sign.

In the 430 mile race the current leader is Thierry Corbarieu from France. Well, actually, he is more likely from another planet. He is moving super fast. Always in a good mood and enjoying the adventure. In second place is Christof Teuscher from the USA. MYAU legend Enrico Ghidoni from Italy is in 3rd position but due to the fact that he started as a xc-skier and is now on foot, he is unranked. He opted for this because his ski set-up this time did not work for him. Besides he does not have to proof anything to anybody, having finished the 430 mile distance in previous years on foot, on bike and on xc-ski. For him this is a bit of a final chapter in his career as winter endurance athlete. Enrico turned 65 just before the race and said he would “retire” after this one. We will see … Next in line are MYAU veterans Pat Cooke-Rogers (UK) on fatbike and Laura Trentani (IT) on foot.

I have also seen all other 430 milers in Carmacks today. Of course they are suffering but at the same time they have kept their positive attitude and look forward to a section of trail that is way better now, heading towards McCabe Creek.

After Braeburn, Carmacks is a very important milestone. We know that a large percentage of athletes who manage to get here before the cut-off (tonight 10:30 PM) later on will reach the finish line. Temperatures are still fairly cold but not absolutely extreme. The crew is now in Carmacks, McCabe and Pelly Crossing. Tomorrow we will close Carmacks and open Pelly Farm, a day later also Scroggie Creek.

Luc Atgé (France) and Markus Kolly (Switzerland) will get a transfer to Whitehorse tomorrow. With a bit of luck most of the other participants will catch a ride back from their respective finish lines.

100 mile race has a winner

With Andrea Fawell from England the last athlete in the 100 mile race crossed the finish line well before the cut-off time, which is 3 days.

The overall results are:

Rank 1 David Brabec from Whitehorse/Canada 23 hours and 42 minutes

Rank 2 Pablo Criado Toca from Santander/Spain 31 hours and 48 minutes

Rank 3 Brady Kyle from Fort St. John/Canada 46 hours and 18 minutes

Rank 4 Jose Luis Romero Munoz from Miguelturra/Spain 47 hours and 28 minutes

Rank 5 David Trueman from Princes Risborough/England 51 hours and 55 minutes

Rank 6 Andrea Fawell from Postcombe/England 57 hours and 45 minutes

Congratulation to all of you!

In the meantime more athletes had stopped their races in various locations and for different reasons. Juan Carlos Najero left for Ken Lake on his fat bike but turned around again because of frostbite on his fingers. Luckily he noticed it early enough and he should be fine. Russ Reinbolt got cold stressed and decided to pull out on the way to Braeburn. Peter Mild had problems with an old hip injury coming back. Kate Lawrence also had issues with her hips. Jonathan Kattenberg had an upset stomach. Kike Trull Maravilla and Michelle Smith were troubled by bronchitis. Fabian Imfeld and Daniel Benhammou were stopped by some frostbite – nothing too bad but bad enough not to let them continue. Joel Juht had to surrender to chafing.

Hendra Wijaya from Indonesia was disqualified. This did not happen for lack of athletic ability. Physically and mentally he likely would have finished the 430 mile race. He is also a very nice person and it was a very hard decision to make. The problem in his case came down to language issues that led to him breaking a rule and a general concern about his skill set for survival in the extreme cold.

So, right now we still have Ahmad, Gareth and Marianne left in the 300 mile race (out of 6 athletes who started). The leader currently is Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra veteran Marianne Heading from England.

In the 430 mile race we are down to 19 participants (out of 40 who started). Currently in the lead is Thierry Corbarieu from France who at the moment is resting in Carmacks, together with Christof Teuscher (USA) and Enrico Ghidoni (Italy).

Day 2 is coming to an end

As always at Muktuk almost all participants were looking very strong. Only 430 mile athletes Darrah Miskell and Palle Andersen could not continue. With Darrah it was due to bronchitis and Palle simply did not feel well. Having already finished this distance in a previous year, it’s understandable that he did not wan to go on.

The two brothers, Kim and Kevin Walker, who were in the 100 mile race, decided to spend the night at checkpoint 1. They wanted to have a good rest and then decide what to do. In the end they opted not to continue.

All other athletes did venture out into a very cold night. Although the clouds already meant that temperatures did not go down to the absolute extreme. Still, after a long day and certainly in the Takhini area, which is known for being chilly, it was tough. We tried something new this year which was to place an RV at the overland trail parking lot. That is where last year numerous athletes had a hard time. And it was a good decision. Jason Carpenter felt really cold and could not go beyond. James Binks also pulled out at this “exit point”. Both stayed in the warm RV where Sarah and Trish took good care of them. Some more athletes were camped outside and this morning two of them, Scott Carey and Robert Jeffery, did not go any further.

Matt Hosford got a ride out from friends. Réjean Moreau and Mark Melville Taylor also did not get to Dog Grave Lake. Both were taken south by one of our guides. Already before that we were informed that Romanian athlete Tiberiu Useriu arrived at Dog Grave Lake with frostbite on his toes. The medical team very quickly made all the right decision and a helicopter transport was arranged. That way Tiberiu was able to get his treatment asap, which is vital when it comes to the best possible recovery. He is now at Whitehorse General Hospital and the entire MYAU team keeps their fingers crossed that it all goes as well as possible under these circumstances. I would like to add that Tiberiu is not a newcomer to the cold. He has competed in three editions of the 6633 winter ultra which takes place further north in the Yukon every winter. If I am not mistaken he won their 350 mile race distance 3 times in a row. And conditions up there can be super tough, too. So, I am not sure what went wrong for him but I will try to talk to him tomorrow.

Once we knew Tiberiu is save I drove up to Braeburn with Palle, who is now helping the volunteer crew. Here I got the news that Paul Fosh was on his way out on the back of a ski-doo and also Uwe Paschke could not go any further. Paul had problems with his energy level due to not being able to eat enough and Uwe struggled with the humidity. Just like Palle, Uwe had already finished the 430 mile race in a previous year. Therefore,  he decided that he does not want to go on if he does not feel 100% comfortable.

Now I talked a lot about the athletes who were not able to reach their respective finish lines. However, we of course also have numerous athletes who are doing great. One of them is local runner David Brabec who won the 100 mile distance in an excellent time. Montane athlete Pablo Criado Toca from Spain came 2nd. MYAU veteran Pat Cooke-Rogers from the UK is doing great, too. She was the second athlete to arrive in Braeburn. Although she did say that the fresh snow slowed her down a lot.

Other athletes are now reaching Braeburn and Enrico is getting ready to leave for Ken Lake.

We already know that Norma Bastidas will not continue beyond Dog Grave Lake. She will come out tomorrow.

Now I will try to get some images online and also start filling the results table. Marathoners, I did not forget you! It has just been super busy.



A day full of emotions

It is now 20:30 local time and I finally get a chance to write a first update.

Day 1 of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra was an interesting one. We got started on time at 10:30 at Shipyard’s Park in Whitehorse. It was about – 38° Celsius. Which meant a few athletes decided to skip the group photo at the start. More than understandable at these temps.

Due to the temperatures there has been a real danger of frostbite and hypothermia. So, it was great to see that both at Takhini Bridge and at the marathon finish at Muktuk no athletes had problems with either. Layer management was one of the main challenges and most participants did really well. Those who did sweat had to take a bit more time but managed themselves well and simply put on dry spare layers.

At Takhini Bridge local marathoner Amanda Lieverse had to scratch. Two more athletes called it a day at the marathon finish. Those were Darrah Miskell who had issues with Bronchitis and Palle Andersen who simply was not feeling well. Darrah is back in Whitehorse and Palle is sleeping at Muktuk.

We had a few challenges today, like a generator that did not want to start and some equipment that was late for Dog Grave Lake checkpoint. Nothing we could not deal with but it meant our final preparations at Muktuk were a bit delayed. This led to three marathoners having been misdirected. Normally marathoners run past Muktuk for some kilometres, then turn around and take the turn-off to come to Muktuk. That way they get the marathon distance. It was not their fault and they all went out again to get in the full distance. Needless to say that this was frustrating for them. But it speaks for them that they did it anyway. I apologised and will now have to check a few things before I can do the final marathon ranking. All other marathoners had no problems and they were all smiles.

The mood amongst the ultra athletes was great, too. It usually is on the first day. It was cold but the sun was out. Energy levels are high and even though it was cold, they have not suffered too much, yet. Luckily the weather forecast was right. It is now cloudy and it has “warmed up”. Tonight it should be around – 35° Celsius.

The crew at Dog Grave Lake checkpoint is ready. Diane, Julie and Ellie are already based in Braeburn. Jo at Scuttlebutt is resting while I am on headquarter shift. Sarah and Trish are at the “exit point” at the Dawson Overland Trail parking lot with their Fraserway RV. That is an area that is very cold and often athletes run into problems there during the first night. Now they can knock on a door and have a warm place if they decide to scratch. With them are Jeff Boyd and his friend, who also happens to be a Jeff. They are there to do any early morning missions on ski-doo if need be.

All other crew members are soon getting a well deserved rest before we start into day 2.

I should be able to update the results table with In/Out times tomorrow. Right now you can use the Trackleaders page to see where everyone is at.

We also are aware that a couple of SPOTs are not working the way they should. One is that of Enrico Ghidoni. He arrived at Muktuk at 15:37, was feeling good and left shortly after. Most other SPOT issues we have been able to fix. Just Matt Hosford’s inReach is not sending but he is with David Brabec who is showing on the map.

Tomorrow I will also have photos and and later tonight I will share Yann and Thilo’s video of the days leading up to the start.

If you want to see photos and videos already now please check out our facebook group.


Some SPOTs still need activation

This is an important update for all athletes using a SPOT:

It’s getting better. More and more SPOTs are now activated. The ones still not sending are:

426, 430, 103, 417, 439, 437 and 436.

The athletes with the above start numbers should do the following: Please go outside with your SPOT and put it in tracking mode. Then, after about 5 minutes, send an “ok message”. When doing this the first time it may take up to 20 minutes. I will update later today which SPOTs still are not sending.

If you already have done the above, please send an email.

Checking SPOTs

This is an important update for all athletes using a SPOT:

Almost all SPOTs are now handed out. There are quite a few units that have not shown a signal on the system. This concerns the following start numbers:

423, 421, 426, 430, 416, 302, 409, 103, 417, 439, 431, 303, 420, 432, 412, 410, 438, 425, 422

The athletes with the above start numbers should do the following: Please go outside with your SPOT and put it in tracking mode. Then, after about 5 minutes, send an “ok message”. When doing this the first time it may take up to 20 minutes. I will update later today which SPOTs still are not sending.